Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Church

Buildings Update

Building for the Gospel


This document contains the scripts for four Connecting Church updates delivered to the congregation of Kirkpatrick Memorial at morning services in the spring/early summer of 2019. The four updates were as follows:

19 May                   Why We’re Thinking About our Buildings

26 May                   Advantages and Disadvantages of Refurbish and Rebuild Options

2 June                     Finance Update

23 June                  What Happens Next?

In addition to these four updates you may want to (re)listen to a sermon Building for the Gospel which was preached to the morning congregation on Sunday 12 May. You can find it on our website or podcast. 

Why We’re Thinking About our Buildings

19 May      

Good morning ….I want to offer some words of explanation regarding the drawings on display, and to let you know what we hope to do in these slots over the next few Sunday mornings.

• First of all, it was great to see so many folk up here, looking at the posters, and chatting about them__ but please be aware that these are not final designs, or even approved designs! They are what our Architects offered as first thoughts, simply to illustrate the possibilities open to us either by refurbishing this building and building new halls, or, by knocking it all down and constructing something new….starting all over again. So please don’t think…”I don’t like what they’re doing there…”….nobody is doing anything, just yet!!

• Secondly, today I want to explain to you some of the very practical drivers in this discussion about our buildings.

Next week, we’ll be looking at the pros and cons…the advantages and disadvantages of both the options under consideration.

The following week, we’ll talk about costs, finance and giving.

And finally, we’ll cover the decision–making process, following on from where we find ourselves now.

Hopefully this will cover a lot of the questions you may have, but please feel free to talk to any of the elders, or drop us a note, marked “buildings”, into the office….or send us an email at “”

• So, what about this morning? Boys and girls, I want you to listen up here as well. because this effects you right now….and maybe in the future!

( You won’t have to listen to all this buildings talk in the weeks ahead…just this morning.)

Can you see this drawing on the screen…it’s a big version of the one pinned up on the notice boards, and it was drawn to show you just some of the problems our old buildings are having.

(i) The blue raindrops show places where the roofs have been leaking whenever it rains! Do you remember seeing a basin in the middle of the Forbes Hall floor? And then, just where people hang their costs in the

corner there’s a big water stain on the bricks.The door where you go out towards the toilets/kitchen is another place you can get drops of cold water down your neck ( I know ! ) …and the girls’ toilet has had water dripping down from the light in the ceiling!

The raindrops in the church office show where a big leak occurred this spring, and the one in the Minister’s room was actually filmed….it was like a small waterfall.

(ii) The blue snowflakes in the kitchen and toilets….can anyone think of what they might be telling us? Yes…it’s really cold out there…even when it’s not the wintertime. There are two reasons for that….one is that there is no insulation on the roofs anywhere in our halls ( or in this church building ), and secondly, the underground pipes taking hot water to the radiators in the corridor and toilets, burst last autumn, and can’t be repaired without ripping up the floors and digging down to find the leak. Fortunately, the clever heating engineers who help us look after the church were able to turn the water off in that end of the building, but I’m afraid there’s no heat down in those loos !!

(iii) The flames are there to remind us that we have fire escapes that the Fire Brigade think are not good enough! They’re either too narrow to let people through in an emergency, or there are not enough of them! That’s why you’ve seen the notices on the stairs out the back telling us we can’t have more than 60 people upstairs in the halls, that could really hold 130….and the notice beside the Forbes Hall ( the sports hall ) tells us…”no more than 110”, when it’s big enough for 190!

The one in the Minister’s room is a bit different. You know that the green signs that light up over the doors mean that it’s a fire escape? Well, up until a few weeks ago we only had one at this end of the church….and that wasn’t good enough to get 350–400 people through quickly enough in the event of a fire. So we’ve re–used another long–abandoned way out through the Minister’s room, right through the band and singers, and out into Eastleigh Crescent through a gate in our yard wall! It’s not the easiest way to get out…but it works.

(iv) And finally, the big orange arrows around the front and side of the church, remind us that what was once very pretty Scrabo sandstone is blackened , flaking and dissolving before our eyes. Look hard at the stones, especially around the front door of the church, and you’ll see it looks as if someone has taken a giant rubber and tried to rub out some of the fancy stonework…it’s really sad looking. Actually, it’s worse than that, because, if we don’t fix it, it will eventually let the rainwater through , deep into the church walls, and cause us all sorts of problems.

• That’s a lot of doom and gloom is’t it ? But listen up….you don’t have to worry about it, because we grown ups are going to sort it out! Someday maybe you’ll be the mums and dads here, running Sunday Club, and the GB and BB,…that would be brilliant…. and we don’t want you to have these sorts of problems.

I know all you older folks have been listening carefully….so I hope by now you realise that we can’t sit back and do nothing….it’s not an option.

In order to address some of these problems, we costed out stone repairs ( at £260k 18 months ago ), plus a new roof over the Forbes Hall and two new fire escapes; one from the Forbes Hall through what is currently the Creche store, and the other via a new staircase down through the Tolland Hall floor and into the Minister’s room….and hence out to Eastleigh Crescent. That all came to £560 k.

To deal with the newer additional leaks, repair the CH system and provide insulation throughout our present buildings could easily inflate that to nearer £700 k.

I could go on….and the costs would ratchet up as well.

In other words , to simply maintain the status quo as far as church layout and facilities are concerned ( but to in fact lose some space in the process ) we are facing a considerable bill, just to stand still, be warm and dry, and meet the requirements of Statutory Regulations.

That’s this morning’s “thought for the day” as far as the buildings are concerned

• If you ave any questions regarding what I’ve just shared with you, please feel free to come and chat…or drop us a line. We want to be totally open and transparent about all this process.

Thank you boys and girls for being so patient and listening so well.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Refurbish and Rebuild Options Connecting Church 

26 May 

Good morning…again !

Last week we looked at our present buildings and some of the problems we currently are having to cope with, and you’ll remember the message was…”Doing nothing is not an option !” Well, this week I want to acquaint you with some of the advantages and disadvantages of the two illustrative options currently under consideration. We’ll call them “ Refurbish and Extend” ( referred to as Option A on the slides ) and

“New Build” ( option B ).

If you have studied the posters at the front, you will recognise the next few slides_

(2) This is the ground floor of the “Refurbish and Extend” option. The purple rectangle is this room ( the Sanctuary ), and the blue shaded areas are the new halls and single story Welcome Area along the side of the church, reaching out to the back of the pavement line on the main road. ( The railings have been removed .)

(3) The next slide shows the proposed first floor arrangement, including a lift for access from the ground floor.

(4) What that would look like from the Upper Newtownards Rd is shown on the next slide_ and yes, our stonework should appear close to that colour when cleaned up ! ( Look at Knock Presbyterian for the real thing .)

(5) A possible plan for a “New Build”, or complete demolition of all our existing buildings and replacing them with all–new church and halls is shown on the next slide. At first glance it looks very different, but you’ll recognise the same basic concept of a Sanctuary ( albeit differently shaped) Halls to the rear, and a Welcome Area.

(6) You will also note that the first floor plan allows for two–storey construction right out to the footpath.

(7) Its external appearance is somewhat simpler than at present, but the Architect has kept a tower feature at the front as a nod to the building that has stood here for the last 100 years. ( We don’t want the building to be anonymous !)

(8) & (9) Some views of the entrance approach, and internal arrangements are shown on the next two slides. ( Note the permanent coffee point tucked under the stairs, and the glazed, curved rear wall of the Sanctuary….and you’ll not miss the tiered seating arrangement on either side of the Sanctuary, and the flat central area with chairs.)

I sense maybe you’re feeling slightly confused ! Which scheme is the better one ? To chose between them is not a simple exercise, ( as Session have discovered ) so, as promised, I’m going to run through some of the Advantages and Disadvantages of each approach, as suggested by another Architectural team, to assist you in your thinking .

First of all….the perceived ADVANTAGES of each option.

Refurbish and Extend

_ Maintaining the historic emotional anchor within the community

This refers to the as yet unknown degree of public attachment to , and identification

with the church buildings in Ballyhackamore, and maybe, beyond !

_ Congregational Reaction ie it may be a less contentious option ?

Folk can understandably feel emotional about this…”This is my church family home…

I’ve been coming here for years and experienced much of God’s goodness within these

walls. I want to keep it !”

_ Simpler Planning Process

The church is not a listed building, but the opinion of neighbours can carry significant

weight with the Planning authority. This proposal does not make any huge change to

what is already in place.

_ Lower capital cost (?)

It would seem logical that this should be the case….after all you are not building

everything from scratch ! We would be using most of the structure already in place.

But it isn’t necessarily so_ it depends on the nature and extent of the works included in

the refurbishment scheme, and the opinion of HMRC ( more of that later.)

_ Potential for more phasing_ie all the work doesn’t have to happen at the same


This means that we could possibly continue to use this sanctuary for a month or

two , at least while the stonework is being repaired and cleaned, and possibly while

part of the existing halls are being demolished.

New Build

_ New Contemporary Image

Buildings make statements…this says we are not living in the past.

_ Improved Transparency

More scope to allow the public to see what we do, and how we interact with each

other….and as Christoph suggested, it might encourage us to be more aware of, and be

more involved in our mission to the folk living and working out there in Ballyhackamore.

_ Largely VAT Zero–rated_ and therefore all the money is used in construction.

This is an important point, and helps to make new–build a more cost–effective

option….and possibly better stewardship of what God has blessed us with.

Again, we’ll explain a bit more in a few moments.

_ Greater energy efficiency

You don’t have to be a tree–hugger to appreciate that leaner and greener will usually

mean less running costs_ and this may become more of an issue in years to come.

_Improved Functionality

Remember how we considered the quotation by Churchill a fortnight ago ?_” We shape

our buildings, and then our buildings shape us.” The frustrations experienced by leaders ,

( especially those working with young folk), due to the layout and confines of our present

buildings are an unnecessary burden, and possibly even a barrier to more effective

service for God’s kingdom. We can make it better .

_Lower Running and Maintenance Costs

Speaks for itself…BUT, perversely, buildings that are more versatile and attractive will no doubt be used more often ( which is the whole point ), and that means running costs will rise proportionally, possibly back to the same level as at present ! However, maintenance will definitely reduce ( that’s for the Grounds for Coffee guys ! )

_ Improved Compliance

A new–build solution will deliver on the requirements of health and safety regulations.

What about the Disadvantages of each option ?

Refurbish and Extend

_Less opportunity to improve transparency

Present windows and doors not easily enlarged or re–positioned as they are framed in

decorative stonework .

_ Restrictions of existing fabric

The original materials used and the type of construction ( eg massive stone–faced solid brick load– bearing masonry , and single glazed decorative leaded windows ) don’t readily lend themselves to alteration or improvement.

_ VAT Risk

This is a big one, possibly leading to an extra £250k in costs, and as I am not an accountant specialising in tax affairs, I’ll give you the simplistic explanation.

Basically, new–build , stand–alone buildings are effectively not subject to VAT…THEY ARE ZERO–RATED.

On the other hand, refurbishment work, and, crucially, extensions are subject to VAT.

However, HMRC recognise that a church hall, connected to, but not dependent on the main church building, can be classified as an “Annexe”; and annexes, “if used for a relevant charitable purpose” are zero–rated for VAT.

The tricky question is, when does an annexe to a building become an extension of the building, because that changes the whole VAT liability ?

Our Architects are well–versed in what HMRC are looking for as they decide on the VAT designation of the church halls…and you can be sure that our “welcome area” attached to the side of the church will be one area of discussion when we show the final proposals to the tax man.

Basically, if the two buildings can fulfil their functions totally independent of each other, then we have an argument for classification of this “Option A” as a church and annexed halls.i’m sure we’ll be talking about this again !

_ Less Energy Efficient.

It is difficult to raise the thermal transmission properties of solid walls, non–insulated roof, and single–glazed leaded windows, to anything near current standards required in Building Regulations. It is much more difficult to control heat loss in the refurbished church building.

_ Greater Risk to Budget

We have to realise that some hidden defects / problems associated with this old building may surface only when work starts on site. This is a very common occurrence, leading to unforeseen extra costs.

New Build

_Potentially More Difficult Planning Process

This is the “flip side” of what we earlier referred to as the existing church being a “ historic and emotional anchor within the community”_ new build may meet with resistance !

Also, our Architect has warned us that even though our existing church is not a listed building, and the inspectors who assessed it were quite dismissive of its aesthetic value, this can change suddenly when a proposal is made to demolish it .

_ Higher Capital Cost (?)

Again this appears logical, but frankly it depends on what you plan to build, and what standard of finishes are included. At present, we are working from a brief that specified “simple, durable, plain construction, and standards of finish and fittings….in keeping with budget limitations, whilst also providing a warm, attractive and comfortable environment.”

The costs for both options are presently at the £2.7m mark. ( Obviously, an unhelpful VAT assessment, or the introduction of a mezzanine level floor above the sports hall, would boost this to around £3.0 m ) . But I don’t want to transgress on next week’s instalment !

_ More Difficult to Phase

In fact phasing is probably not possible with this option, but it is quicker to build_ our QS reckoned 18 months construction for the refurb option, and 16 months for the new build. You recall I suggested we could remain in the church for a couple of months covering some stonework repairs and demolitions out the back if the refurb option was chosen….well that means we would then be seeking temporary accommodation for 16 months in both cases, so this is not really likely to be an issue for us.

_ Loss of Historic Image

Yes, this would be an unavoidable consequence of the new build option….but it’s only a disadvantage if we consider this as something assisting us in our work and witness for the Kingdom.

So, there you have it, the advantages and disadvantages of each option. I hope that helps you in your thinking about what has been on display….and that you will appreciate just how difficult it is for Session to decide which course of action to take !

Next week’s briefing will be on “Costs, Finance and Giving.”Thanks for your attention

Finance Update

2 June


Let me ask you a question – if you had to stand up in front of a group of people and ask them for £3m how would you approach that?

As you can imagine that’s something that I’ve had to think about a lot as I’ve prepared for today and here is where I’ve got to. If you are going to ask a group of people for that amount of money two things need to be present – they need to, (i) have a reason to give and (ii) have the means to give. 

You have to have the money and you need to have a reason to give it. I believe we have both here. 

Before I go any further I want to be very clear that when I am talking about giving, especially when I mention amounts, it is to us as a group. I will talk about us being a well off group and that is the case but I know there are some of you who don’t have a lot of money, who are struggling to make ends meet and you will struggle to give anything more to Kirkpatrick. If that is you, you are no less part of this family if you can give noting extra, you are no less part of this project and this mission if you can’t give financially at the moment. We are a family and the reality is there are members of this congregation who ‘well–off’ doesn’t adequately describe their financial position they are rich by any standard and the ask for them is to give two, three, five, ten times the amounts mentioned. And if they do they are no more part of this project or mission.

That’s really important for me to be clear on as we start. Now, let me come back to the two things I mentioned – the ability to give and the reason to give.

The Reason to Give

We believe this is what God is calling us to at this point in the life of Kirkpatrick. 

The Elders have been thinking for over ten years about these buildings and the need to do something with them. Over that time, we have maximized what we have here – removing the stage in the main hall and making much needed storage, creating the Whitely Hall out of a corridor and a bit of the main hall. Acquiring the Fudge Factory for much needed office space and a youth room. We have done pretty much everything possible with what we have. 

We have now reached a point where we need to spend £750k to maintain what we have and be compliant and actually to do that would leave us with less accommodation. Or we can do something more substantial. 

We have prayerfully considered that and have come to a point where we now believe to best steward what God has given us, both in terms of our resources and the mission we have here, we need to embark on a fundamental building project. 

You might say we are reluctant builders. We are not doing this because we want to or because we think we would enjoy the process, we are starting on this journey because we are convinced that God has called us here to be his presence in Ballyhackamore today and into the future and to carry out that mission we now need to do something substantial with our buildings. 

I need to move on but that is the reason for you to give your money. God has called us all to be his people in Ballyhackamore and we think this is what we need to do to live that out.

The Means to Give 

The second thing you need is the means to give.  As I said, please hear what I’m saying as being about us as a group rather than individuals. We are well off. Knowing about the jobs we do, looking at the clothes we are wearing, the cars we drive the houses we live in. We as a group are on average well off. 

When we move on to look at what we need to give some of us will not be able to give any more but some can give many times what we are currently giving. That is what we will need to do. Together we have the ability to release £3m in extra giving over the coming years.

That is why I can stand confidently in front of you this morning and ask you for £3m because I believe we have a reason to give and the means, the ability, to give it. 

There is more I would love to say on both of those points but I want to move on to help us think about the specifics of giving. 

Giving – Questions

I want to ask you three questions about your giving but before I do I want to point out two things: 

·       First, this is about releasing money not raising it. 

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a really helpful Sunday evening, with the new communicants class and we were looking at the vows a new member makes.  This was a very useful reminder for me that – if we are members we have each vowed to give a fitting proportion of our time, talents and money to the church. All of these are relevant for a building project but those words ‘fitting proportion’ of our money is something I’ll come back to.

We are a well off group of people, with access to significant resources between us. Therefore, we don’t need to look outside ourselves – that simplifies things. We don’t need to raise the money from outside ourselves we just need to release it.

·       Second, I want to challenge an assumption that Kirkpatrick is a rich church. Kirkpatrick is a church with many people of well above average income but the church itself isn’t rich. The accounts for 2018 show a deficit of around £20k on our general account, and that is based on modest expenditure.  We give modestly here – we have formed a view consciously or unconsciously that Kirkpatrick doesn’t really need much of our money. If I think of my own circumstances we only give about a third of all our giving to Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick has not made big demands of us in relation to giving and I think we have all adjusted our giving accordingly. 

If you take 10% as a yardstick for the amount of their income a family will give to the church our income level as a church is what you would expect if one person in each of our families worked and they were earning minimum wage. We know that is far from the case – our current giving is a fraction of what it could or should be. 

So let me ask you about your giving. I want to ask three things:

·       Are you giving?

·       What are you giving?

·       What are you giving up?

Are you giving?

If you are a member here, then you have promised to give a fitting proportion of your money. The question isn’t should you give but how much should you give. But some of us aren’t giving anything currently and I want to make sure we flag that before moving on.

Next week at the AGM the annual report will show that during 2018 227 people contributed to the church by way of recorded giving. That’s against 319 families here. That means there are some of us who are members here who aren’t giving. 

I don’t want to dwell on this point. But I need to make sure we don’t miss it. Perhaps you have recently joined and haven’t got round to arranging to give money or maybe you direct all your giving elsewhere because you have assumed it isn’t needed here.  

We need everyone to give. If you aren’t please change that now and start to give.

What are you giving?

The second question is what are you giving.  We have each vowed to give a ‘fitting proportion’ of our money to the church. So let’s unpack that.

Numbers will be mentioned from the front, and I know Christoph has helpfully done that in the past, but they will always be by way of illustration to help you think about your giving, at no point will an amount be prescribed. 

We are not asking you to give certain amount but rather a proportion that is to be ‘fitting’. 

This is a matter for each of us to determine, but what is fitting must be influenced not only by our own circumstances but also the circumstances of the church. I mentioned before that we (Helen and I) currently give about one third of our total giving to Kirkpatrick, another third goes to good friends who are missionaries in Albania and another third to organisations like SU, Tearfund, Kids Alive etc.

As we move into a new season of church life as far as financial needs are concerned, the ‘fitting proportion’ changes and I think, and we are prayerfully considering this, that a fitting proportion for us to give to Kirkpatrick is now about three times what we are currently giving. 

So we need to look at our current giving – some we won’t change like giving to our missionary friends but some other giving we will at least need to pause for a season and give it to Kirkpatrick. To get to a fitting level we will also need to give more overall and that leads to the question:

What are you giving up?

If we are adjusting our assessment of what is a fitting proportion of our income to give – I think that will likely come from a combination of redirecting giving to KMPC but also increasing giving. 

If we are to increase giving we will have to give something up. So take a moment with me to think of what that will be:

Nespresso Order – £60

New shoes – £30 – £130

New phone – £25pm

Coffee £15pm

Delay changing your car

Maybe you put less into savings

What sacrifice could you make to free up money for Kirkpatrick?

What is the financial need?

As I finish, let me give you a bit more detail on the financial needs specifically in relation to the building project so you can think in an informed way about the fitting proportion of your income you have committed to give.

The overall building project is estimated to cost £3m. We will need to raise around one third of this upfront and seek to borrow the rest. 

So what do we need to do – we each need to consider how much we can give up front towards the initial target of £750k (existing funds and Gift Aid take it to £1m) and then think about how much extra will we give each month towards the cost of the loan for the balance.

To reach that initial target of  £750k we are likely going to need to look at our savings or investments or perhaps an annual bonus we get from work and say I’m going to give a chunk of that. This will require sacrifice, of course it will. 

If we give what we can comfortably afford we won’t get anywhere near this target and that is the big challenge for us. So, what is your big, up–front sacrifice to support this project?

The second bit is our ongoing giving.

£2m loan over 10 years at 5% interest. Is a monthly repayment of £21,200. That is an average of £66pm for 319 families. 

Could you give £30/£60/£100/£200 extra each month?

So that is the ask – how much will you give up front (i.e. over the course of the next year) and how much each month into the future.


Let me wrap up – This morning I am speaking to a group of people who have been called to come to this church at this time to be part of what God is doing here. I am speaking to a group of people who have vowed to give a fitting proportion of their time, talents and money to what God is doing here. I am speaking to a group of people who collectively have the resources to make this happen. 

Please prayerfully consider how you can give.

What Happens Next?

23 June 2019

What’s Happening Next

·       The architects will be working over the Summer on the brief, taking into account the User Group input.

·       An informal meeting will be held in late September to allow the congregation to discuss/explore/ask questions on the content of the connecting church slots and the illustrations.

·       Session will take this feedback away and along with further detail provided by the architect, and all other input provided by the congregation along the way, come up with a preferred option

·       Session will present this option to the congregation later in the Autumn [we may decide to name a month]

What Can You Be Doing?

1. Catch up on any of our Building for the Gospel (The text of the connecting church slots will be available on the website)

2. Increase your giving to the Property Account – Standing order forms available in the vestibule (or speak to Gwen)